Mayor Christian Estrosi of Nice dennounced a “terrorist attack at the heart of the Notre-Dame basilica on Thursday. Three people have been killed in a knife attack, including one elderly victim who was “virtually beheaded.” A woman managed to flee to a nearby cafe after being stabbed several times, but died later. A witness had managed to raise the alarm with a special protection system set up by the city. Mr Estrosi spoke of “Islamo-fascism” and said the suspect had “repeated endlessly ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is greatest)”. The suspect was detained minutes after the attack at the basilica.
President Emmanuel Macron has arrived in the southern city to meet police officers at the scene. France raised its national security alert system to its highest level. Later, in a separate development, police killed a suspect in the southern French city Avignon who they said had threatened passersby with a handgun. A minute’s silence was held in the National Assembly. The French Council of the Muslim Faith condemned the knife attack and spoke of its solidarity with the victims and their families. “As a sign of mourning and solidarity with the victims and their loved ones, I call on all Muslims in France to cancel all the celebrations of the holiday of Mawlid,” the spokesman said. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, tweeting in English and French, said the UK stood “steadfastly” with France. Turkey also strongly condemned the “savage” knife attack. Pope Francis had been informed of the situation.